Other than a couple of people being rather kind about my shirt, this has been a pretty great week.
Before I go any further, I should stress that I am not sponsored by the app I’m about to big up. Although, I’d be willing to listen to offers, obviously.
I have the Songkick app on my phone. For those of you unfamiliar with it – and I would imagine most of you use it, so I’m probably just talking to myself now – it’s an app which scans your phone for all of your music, and then whenever an artiste that you have songs by announces a gig in your area, it tells you. You can then buy tickets through the app, or it will guide you to reputable websites that are selling them.
On Thursday lunchtime, I got an alert from Songkick which genuinely made me rub my eyes in disbelief. This one:
As far as I knew, until I got that alert, The Chesterfields had split way back in 1989.
Ok, I imagine many of you are shrugging your shoulders and saying “Who?” right now.
But I knew of at least one person who’d be interested: my old mate Richie.
Richie has popped up quite a lot on these pages recently, indeed it was he who first introduced me to this band back in 1988.
I sent him a DM on Twitter, asking what he was doing on September 20th. When he said he was doing nothing, I broke the news to him and told him I would sort tickets come payday. But Richie, wisely, wouldn’t wait and a few minutes later he sent me a message telling me he’d bought us tickets, and that this was my 50th birthday present.
What a guy.
Moments later still, giddy with excitement, he announced the news to some indifference to the world of Twitter:
He never swears. He must be excited.
And here’s why: back in his bedroom when we were at sixth form together Richie introduced me to the world of jingly jangly indie pop. I’ve mentioned this before: in one afternoon he made me fall in love with The Smiths, The Wedding Present, Billy Bragg, and The Chesterfields.
Of those, it was The Chesterfields who we felt were “ours”. Nobody else seemed to know them, despite me including them on pretty much every mixtape I lovingly compiled for our sixth form common room thereafter – partly because I bloody loved them, but also because their songs were generally super-short and therefore just perfect for squeezing on to the end of one side of a C90.
Their seminal debut album is called Kettle and, if you love jingly-jangly late-80s guitar pop I’d imagine you’re already familiar with it, but if not, then here’s some of my favourite songs from it (I’ve omitted their most well-known (the term is relative) track Ask Johnny Dee as it’s featured a couple of times here before):
I’ll be honest, I could easily have posted the whole album – there’s even an Orange Juice cover on there, a gentle nod to their influences – but where’s the fun in laying everything out on a plate for you? I’m such a tease.
A few years later, I was browsing the racks of a record shop in Haverfordwest, west Wales when I stumbled upon a copy of their second album, Crocodile Tears. I say ‘second album’, technically it’s their third, for there was a compilation of singles and B-sides – Westward Ho! – released in between the two, but compilations don’t count as proper albums in my book – they’re a taster, an appetite whetter, an introduction point.
Of course, I snaffled it up; the sound is more polished but there’s still plenty of pop gems to be found there.
The opening track (the first one posted in this next batch) must have really struck a chord with me, bemoaning as it does the trend of the time of using classic records in jeans adverts. It contains the wonderful rhyming couplet “Instead of peace and revolution, we’ve got AIDS and Whitney Houston”. Anyone who has ever read one of my S.S.O.S. (Stop Spoiling Our Songs) posts will realise I have not one ounce of originality in me.
Such was there development and their knack for writing catchy, witty, pithy pop tunes, they should have gone on to be massive, or have at least one bloody hit, but alas no. The time for clever jangly guitar pop had passed. One more album followed, and then that was it.
Earlier this morning, I returned to the Songkick app to update my status with regards to this gig. You have the option to mark the gig in question to show you are either Interested or Going.
And only then did I notice who the support acts are: Rodney Allen (who was briefly a member of The Chesterfields before jumping ship to join the Blue Aeroplanes) and…it was at this point I had to catch my breath…The Waltones.
Again, a shrug of indifference from most of you, I imagine, but The Waltones have popped up a few times on these pages, and I usually mention that they are responsible for a song which is one of my favourite pop songs ever, but which I’ve never posted (I don’t think).
Like Richie, I am giddy with excitement.
I’ll try not to turn into one of those annoying people who countdown to an event by announcing how many sleeps it is til it happens, but I can’t promise anything.